My understanding of the term dystopia concerns a society where its people are oppressed or controlled in some form. For this reason, I do believe the American higher education system is a dystopia. Through attending college, students are able to study within their field of interest while ultimately obtaining some degree that will allow them to increase their own chances of finding work to finance their own lives. However, not all students are able to achieve their goal of earning a diploma from a range of roadblocks that stand in their way.
The extreme costs that come with college bog many students down and add on to the idea of the American higher educational system being a dystopia. Though higher education in many other countries is free, this cannot be said for American colleges. Rather, the cost of college has seen a steep increase throughout the years, negatively impacting students of lower income families. This prevents many from being able to attend college because of their inability to find the means to afford the costs of tuition, not to mention other costs such as living, food, supplies, and other necessities. Although governmental programs such as FAFSA aim to assist students in being able to afford school, not all students are able to receive this aid. Students from middle-class families are denied financial aid because their families make too much income to receive aid, but they also do not make enough income to afford college themselves. Many students who are fortunate enough to afford college tuition still struggle financially, having to find a balance between school and work or living frugally to save money.
College is definitely a lot more liberating than high school in that students have more free time which can be spent as they please. However, there is control exerted on the students when they feel compelled to constantly spend their time studying out of fear that they will fail a class. The prospect of failure adds more stress that their future is at stake, causing them to push their own health aside to ensure that they do not fail, not to mention the fact that more money would have to be paid in order to retake a course. Though college should ultimately be an enriching experience, the combination of the extreme costs and mental tolls on students makes American higher education appear to have dystopian elements.